Three gunmen opened fire at police near Jerusalem’s holiest site on Friday, wounding three Israelis, two of them critically, before the attackers were killed by security forces, Israeli police said. The gunmen arrived at the sacred site, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, and walked towards one of the Old City gates nearby, police spokeswoman Luba Simri said.
“When they saw policemen they shot towards them and then escaped towards one of the mosques in the Temple Mount compound,” Simri said. “A chase ensued and the three terrorists were killed by police.”
She said three firearms were found on their bodies.
Mobile phone video footage aired by Israeli media showed several policemen chasing a man and shooting him down at the site, which is a popular place for foreign tourists to visit. Israeli authorities are still working to identify the attackers, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.
The Israeli ambulance service Magen David Adom said three Israelis were wounded, two critically.
Tensions are often high around the marble-and-stone compound that houses the Aqsa Mosque and the golden Dome of the Rock. It is managed by Jordanian authorities and is adjacent to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews are permitted to pray.
Police said Friday prayers for Muslims would not be held at the site following the attack.
A wave of Palestinian street attacks that began in 2015 has slowed but not stopped. At least 255 Palestinians and one Jordanian citizen have been killed since the violence began.
Israel says at least 173 of those killed were carrying out attacks while others died in clashes and protests. Thirty-eight Israelis, two U.S. tourists and a
British student have been killed in stabbings, shootings and car-rammings.
Israel annexed East Jerusalem, where the Old City and the holy compound are located, after the 1967 Middle East war and regards all of Jerusalem as its capital, a move that is not recognised internationally.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of the state they want to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israel blames the wave of violence on incitement by the Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, says desperation over the occupation is the main driver.
The last, U.S.-led attempt to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians broke down in 2014.